Leadership

Turning Points: Mission Refocused

By / Dec 1, 2012 Glow Images

Enid Borden left her association, the Meals on Wheels Association of America, to fulfill its vision—and her own.

If I want to end senior hunger, I have to look at the totality of it, not just one piece of it.

It made little sense on the face of it. Enid Borden had spent more than 20 years as the president and CEO of the Meals on Wheels Association of America, which represents organizations that address hunger among senior citizens. But last June she announced she was leaving MOWAA to better focus on that mission.

More specifically, she jumped to MOWAA’s charitable foundation, the Meals on Wheels Research Foundation, which has been renamed the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger. The name change wasn’t cosmetic for Borden: It underscored her urge to affect broader change. “If I want to end senior hunger, I have to look at the totality of it, not just one piece of it,” Borden says. “Meals on Wheels is a great program, but it’s just one piece.”

In her new role, she serves as a  spokesperson more for the cause than for MOWAA members; in early August she visited the White House to make her case to the administration and collaborate with other anti-hunger organizations.

The key for Borden—and the lesson for association executives—was recognizing when your current job isn’t as fulfilling as it ought to be.

“I saw that the numbers of hungry people were growing, so being content was being somewhat lackadaisical,” she says. “And that’s not leadership.”

Having made her decision, Borden made a point not to linger at MOWAA: In June, she told the board she was leaving, and she was gone by August. She also made a point to taper off her interactions with Larry J. Tomayko, MOWAA’s interim CEO. “I want this organization to be the organization that Enid left it with,” he says.

Still, Borden also wants to leave it free to evolve without her input. “[Larry] will always be my friend, I adore my staff that I left, and I will always be there for them, but they’re little sparrows now, they have to go fly on their own.”

Mark Athitakis

Mark Athitakis, a contributing editor for Associations Now, has written on nonprofits, the arts, and leadership for a variety of publications. He is a coauthor of The Dumbest Moments in Business History and hopes you never qualify for the sequel. More »

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